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Aging Freighter Grounds and Sinks in Aegean Sea

Sea Bird
Sea Bird's AIS trackline and last transmitted position off the coast of the Peloponnese (Pole Star)

Published Aug 30, 2021 1:13 AM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, the freighter Sea Bird ran aground and sank just off Karavia, a rocky islet located about 70 nm south of Athens in the Myrtoan Sea. 

The cargo ship was under way from Ukraine to Tunisia, passing on a southwesterly course off the coast of the Peloponnese. At about 0300 hours local time, Sea Bird struck a rock about 0.2 nm to the northeast of Karavia, according to the Hellenic Coast Guard. The vessel quickly sank, and her last AIS transmission was received at 0316, according to data provided by Pole Star. 

The Sea Bird's 16 crewmembers all successfully abandoned ship. Multiple vessels and SAR assets responded to the scene, including five good samaritan ships, a Hellenic Navy helicopter and two Hellenic Coast Guard patrol boats.

Two of the good samaritan vessels safely rescued all of the crew and transferred them to one of the coast guard boats, which took them to shore at the nearby town of Monemvasia. 

A pollution-control effort is under way, according to Greek media, including regular aerial monitoring and multiple spill response vessels. No information about the extent of any fuel oil pollution was immediately available.

The islets of the Myrtoan Sea are known for hazardous currents, and they are no stranger to shipwrecks. The ill-fated ro/pax ferry Heraklion went down off the island of Falkonera (east of Karavia) with the loss of more than 200 passengers and crewmembers in 1966.

The 1985-built Sea Bird was a 7,600 dwt freighter registered with a Paris MOU black list flag. She was managed by a Lebanese firm and owned in Liberia. Since 2015, she had been inspected by port state control more than 30 times, and almost all found multiple deficiencies.